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Microsoft Surface Go 2 review: Small, and even better?

Microsoft Surface Go 2 featured image
Picture: TechnikNews
(Post picture: © 2020 TechnikNews)

A good two years ago Microsoft was with the Surface GB went a little different way. But it hasn't been perfect yet. I looked at whether that has changed with the Microsoft Surface Go 2.

The Surface Go was the first convertible from Microsoft that focused entirely on portability. The display and the housing should be as small as possible so that it can be transported in every conceivable bag. Nevertheless, there should be room for the typical Surface kickstand and a connector for the keyboard. The result was a compact and lightweight convertible on which I wrote my articles during IFA 2018 without any significant loss of performance and which I procould easily carry around in his hand. In addition, the remaining aspects of the device have largely convinced me.

Unfortunately, not everything was perfect. The three main points of criticism are the thick display edges, the relatively weak one Proprocessor in the top configuration and the eMMC memory in the entry-level variant. I found out whether that changed with the second generation.

Unboxing and initial setup

I received three different packages in total. The Surface Go 2 itself is in one, the Surface Pen in the second and the Surface Signature Type Cover in the last. The latter two things have to be purchased separately - the prices can be found at the end of this review.

Let's take a look at the package in which the Surface is waiting for us. In terms of appearance, this has not changed much. It is still mostly white, except where Microsoft has put its own logo and a picture of the convertible. If you remove the protective plastic and the upper cover, you can already see the device. If you take it out of the box, you will find a 24-watt charger and some instructions underneath. It is a bit of a shame that a stronger power supply is not included here. The other two packages are quite unspectacular. In each of these there is only the pen and the keyboard for the Microsoft Surface Go 2.

Microsoft Surface Go 2 unboxing

A lot to unpack! (Picture: TechnikNews)

Although my test device was already set up, I would like to briefly describe what a typical initial setup for a Windows device looks like. After setting your language and region of residence, you will be prompted to sign in to your Microsoft account. This is also automatically used as a user account. Alternatively, you can also create a local account. Once that's done, you can set up Windows Hello. I'll explain what that is in more detail later. In addition to this, you can also specify whether the PC can be unlocked with a PIN code. After that, all you have to do is agree to the terms of use. The whole Prozess should take about a quarter of an hour.

Design and display

The Surface Go 2 has got a larger touchscreen compared to the first generation. While it still had a 10-inch display, that of the new Go 2 measures 10,5 inches diagonally. Nothing has changed in terms of the size of the tablet, which means that the display bezels are now a lot thinner. Point of criticism Numero Uno of the predecessor: Check! The resolution is 1920 × 1280 pixels, the aspect ratio is 3: 2. In my opinion, this aspect ratio makes sense especially for such compact convertibles, as it gives more vertical space. The display itself was able to convince me so far review. I especially liked the bright colors. However, the maximum brightness is a bit low, especially when working outdoors.

Microsoft Surface Go 2 display

Here you can clearly see that there is still room for improvement at maximum brightness. (Picture: TechnikNews)

The sensors for Windows Hello are located above the touchscreen. These allow you to unlock the Surface with your face. In most cases, it happened to me before I even noticed it. You don't even have to look straight into the sensors to be recognized. Only in direct sunlight does this feature not work as quickly.

Microsoft has integrated a loudspeaker each to the right and left of the display. It is particularly advantageous here that these are aimed directly at the user, which improves the overall experience somewhat. Unfortunately, when listening to music, I noticed that the bass isn't the best on some songs. All in all, the speakers are definitely sufficient for on the go.

A unique selling point of the Surface Pro- and Go row is the kickstand on the back. This allows the angle of view of the device to be adjusted continuously, and in the end the kickstand can be pulled back by almost 180 degrees. This is particularly useful if you want to work with the Surface Pen. However, the further you adjust the viewing angle, the more wobbly it gets on the lap. That Proproblem is known for a long time.

Processing and connections

In terms of connections, the Go 2 is still not very well positioned. We have a jack plug, a USB-C port and the well-known Surface Connector. Hach, the Surface Connector, what can I say? In principle, a great thing because the device won't break if the user trips over the cable while charging. Even so, I think Microsoft could have included a second USB-C connector as that is simply the port that is more common.

Microsoft Surface Go 2 ports

Here is a look at the connections. (Picture: TechnikNews)

The processing, on the other hand, is at the usual high level. Microsoft has once again opted for a magnesium alloy that is also used in other devices. With the Microsoft Surface Go 2, everything looks very stable and robust, nothing creaks at all. This also applies to the kickstand mentioned above - once you have decided on a suitable position, the stand remains in this position without anything wobbling.

Accessories: Type Cover and Surface Pen

With the Surface Go 2 I got the Signature Type Cover made of Alcantara and the latest version of the Surface Pen. My type cover is the gray one, although there are also the colors cobalt blue and bordeaux red. Alternatively, there are also the Type Covers without the “Signature” in the name, in ice blue, poppy red, platinum and black. The only difference between the two groups is that the colors of the standard variants are a little lighter.

I was largely satisfied with the keyboard and the associated trackpad. The keys have a comfortable pressure point and are even backlit. And even if the trackpad is quite small, it feels good and inputs and gestures are always recognized quickly and accurately. However, it is annoying that it is very difficult to press in the upper area of ​​the surface. In fact, Microsoft couldn't have made the trackpad bigger because there was simply no more space. If the size doesn't fit, you should get an external mouse. However, I still have three points of criticism. First of all, for me personally, the storage space for the heels of the hand is too small, even if I know that it couldn't really get any bigger. Second, I noticed that the trackpad palm suppression is not perfect. I made some incorrect entries here. And third, the keyboard wobbles back and forth as you type, which feels a little weird.

Microsoft Surface Go 2 accessories

The Surface Go 2 with accessories. (Picture: TechnikNews)

We come to the Surface Pen. It has hardly changed at all compared to last time. It can still be stored on the left side of the convertible, where it is also held magnetically. Unfortunately, it doesn't charge, instead you have to change the battery every few months. That's not the end of the world either, but it's far more practical if you don't have to worry about whether the pen is charged or not. The writing experience is great thanks to the soft tip, which, by the way, can also be exchanged for others from Microsoft. In addition, there are 4.096 different pressure levels, which can be particularly helpful when drawing. And once you've made a mistake, you can erase what you've written with the eraser on the top.

Specifications and software

In my test configuration, the best possible equipment, the Go 2, the Intel Core m3 is the eighth Proprocessor generation installed. I'm glad that's the same Processor is the once in the Proseries has been used. It's also progress compared to the first Go: Only a Pentium Gold 4425Y is installed in the top configuration of the first generation. There is also eight gigabytes of RAM and a 128 gigabyte SSD. In the entry-level version, the aforementioned Pentium Gold works with four gigabytes of RAM and 64 gigabytes of eMMC storage. It's a shame that Microsoft put that back in place. The memory can be expanded with a microSD for all configurations.

The performance in everyday life is so well. One important rule should not be forgotten when using the device: Never overwhelm the Microsoft Surface Go 2. Browsing with a few tabs in Microsoft Edge and iTunes for Apple Music in the background is just about okay. But if you then exceed the 10 tabs mark, for example, you immediately notice that everything is suddenly going a little slower. In addition, it takes time to open Prooften program for a second or two. Sure, the Surface Go 2 isn't a Surface Book 3 with top specs, but there's still room for improvement.

The convertible runs Windows 10 with S-Mode. S-Mode - what is that? This mode specifies that only apps from the Microsoft Store can be installed on the device. Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro but can also be loaded – and you should definitely (!!) do that. On the one hand, switching to Home is free, on the other hand, the Microsoft Store doesn't have a good selection of apps, no matter what. Sure, WhatsApp Web and Co. are nice to have, but that's about it.

Unfortunately, you must never leave the house without a charger if you want to use the new Go on the go. When I used it, I achieved an average battery life of between five and six hours. With such a device that is aimed at portability, this should not actually be the case. And actually I'm used to better battery life from the first Go. Here's another comparison: With mine iPad Air 3 I can work in about 10 hours before I need to recharge it.

Prices and availability

The Surface Go 2 is available from Microsoft, Amazon and various retailers, including MediaMarkt and Saturn. The entry-level version with 64 gigabytes of memory and the Intel Pentium Gold is already available for 459 euros. My test device with 128 gigabytes of storage and the m3 then costs 719 euros. The same version with LTE costs 829 euros. You will be asked to go to the cash register again for the accessories. The type cover costs 129 euros and the pen 109 euros.

Microsoft Surface Go 2: conclusion

The Microsoft Surface Go 2 is still the perfect device for working on the go. With the LTE version, you don't even have to worry about a hotspot. You only need a more powerful device for demanding tasks. The compact form factor and good workmanship mean you can toss the device in a bag without any worries. I also liked the fact that Microsoft now uses the slightly more powerful m3 from Intel in the better configurations. And if you want, you can even run full Windows 10 on this compact convertible Pro to run.

For the next generation, Microsoft could definitely say goodbye to the Surface Connector. Compared to USB-C, I just can't think of any real advantages with this connection. You could also say goodbye to eMMC storage, as this is simply much slower than an SSD. If you look at the prices, you also quickly notice that you start with a low entry price, but it can quickly become more expensive. In addition, the battery life could be better with such a device.

In conclusion, one can say that the device series is definitely a step in the right direction. Although I'm a bit disappointed that the battery life isn't that good anymore. In addition, the fact that full-fledged Windows 10Proprograms can run, clearly for the Surface Go 2. I'm already looking forward to the next generation and hope that Microsoft will correct some criticisms here.

Thank you for providing the Surface Go 2.

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David Haydl

David lives in Graz and has been there for around half a decade TechnikNews, also editor-in-chief for some time. He regularly provides the site with news, test reports and the like TechnikNews Weekly, which was his idea to launch. He likes to spend his free time outdoors, listening to a lot of music (and clearly too loud) and some podcasts on all kinds of topics, and also likes to go running. He enjoys the time that remains with his charming girlfriend or in front of the TV.

David has already written 1137 articles and left 106 comments.

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